Clouds and stars with a butterfly

Fiction: I Know What Will Happen

by Danielle B Khleang


The hues surrounding the Salish Sea always burst with vibrancy or pacified the air with muted tones. I can still stare with my child eyes at the wonder of blades of grass, flakey-mushy wood, and seagulls on the wind. I am an earthling. So taken by the planet, it wasn’t until I was older that I noticed my soul’s longing for an unknowable afterlife among the stars. To dissipate between the unfathomably small in quantities so large as to hardly exist. Gazing at my own thoughts beyond the banana trees and wilding grasses as butterflies fluttered a weaving path, the pale blue sky landed a yoke on my head. I would stay on this planet long after my death, and not until this place meets its fiery end will my soul oscillate between existence and oblivion. Clear as day, as dark as night, my body felt truth. And what’s human felt contented and curious. 

But where would I be? Trying to conceive the material experience of the soul’s afterlife on earth I imagined particles in plants and rays of sun and like an essence I would be water. But I’m not water, I’m an air sign. 

A cloud. So obvious. I already knew I was a cloud. For a moment I imagined the changes we would be, a participant in the long durée of planet death. I saw my cloud being fall as water and rise as rain, as putrid neon hues of un-breathable acidity. Just a metaphor or imagining of the suffocation of the human. But the end of this world isn’t the death of the planet. Without the ticking of clocks, time settles softly as a dream where wind blows. Approaching heat beyond fire, what does a star make of rock, lava, and air? Perhaps my soul’s journey ends before meeting the spiral’s core, even if it swells beyond current flesh. 


Danielle Khleang is an early career art writer based in Phnom Penh. She was born in the pacific northwest of the United States and split most of her time between Seattle, Phnom Penh, and London. Her writing is influenced by these places as sites of intellectual, social, and ecological engagement.

📸 Featured Image: Image by Emerald staff.

Before you move on to the next story …
Please consider that the article you just read was made possible by the generous financial support of donors and sponsors. The Emerald is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet with the mission of offering a wider lens of our region’s most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities. Please consider making a one-time gift or, better yet, joining our Rainmaker Family by becoming a monthly donor. Your support will help provide fair pay for our journalists and enable them to continue writing the important stories that offer relevant news, information, and analysis. Support the Emerald!